Message from the Director, Mark Lubell

The mission of the Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior (CEPB) is scientific analysis of the interactions among policy institutions, human behavior, and political decisions in the context of environmental and natural resource conflicts. Through developing and testing theoretical models from social science, CEPB seeks to derive practical lessons that can be used to improve environmental policy.

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Teaching R to 200 students in a week

By Michael Levy - Posted on 20 September 2015

I just taught a week-long "R Bootcamp" to 200 R newbies. It went quite well, and I thought it would be valuable to jot down some thoughts on what worked and what I might change if doing it again.

Teaching R to 200 students in a week

By Michael Levy - Posted on 19 September 2015

I just taught a week-long “R Bootcamp” to 200 R newbies. It went quite well, and I thought it would be valuable to jot down some thoughts on what worked and what I might change if doing it again.

The course design and my approach to teaching scientific computing in general have been deeply shaped by Greg Wilson and the Software Carpentry pedagogy, and this was an experiment in scaling that approach. Software/Data Carpentry workshops are typically two days, cover 3-4 computational tools, and have a student:instructor/assistant ratio of about 8:1. Here, we had five days, just one computational tool, and a ratio of about 50:1. The mission was also different. My goals, in descending priority, were to get students:

Governing the Murray Darling Basin

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 18 September 2015

Fine, I admit I like Twitter as an outreach tool. My fondness for Twitter was recently reinforced when I replied to a message from the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) regarding the various agencies and planning processes around the Murray-Darling watershed in Australia.   I was pleasantly surprised when the MDBA directly responded to a couple of questions that I posed regarding the complexity of the MDBA governance system.

All 15 home teams win! What are the odds?

By Michael Levy - Posted on 12 August 2015

My dad just sent me an article saying that yesterday was the first time in the modern history of Major League Baseball that all 15 home teams won in a single day. Seems pretty incredible, right? To get 15 of 15 winners in a 50/50 contest is a 0.5^15 = 1-in-32,768 shot. To get a better sense of just how rare an event this is, we need to know two things: 1. how often is it possible for it to happen (i.e. all 30 teams play in a day), and 2. when it’s possible, what is the probability of it happening (i.e. all 15 home teams winning).

Mark Lubell featured in Capital Public Radio segment on California water consumption

By Carlos Barahona - Posted on 06 May 2015

Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior director Mark Lubell joins Capital Public Radio's Insight to discuss the collective action problem California faces in reducing water use in times of extreme drought. 

Segment Miniplayer

Californians' Water Consumption Habits

Dartmouth College Professor Michael Cox presents SESMAD

By Carlos Barahona - Posted on 04 May 2015

Normal science involves the interaction between theory and observation. Theories generate observational predictions, and observations have implications for the acceptance or rejection of theories. This characterization of science implies the presence of a body of theory, or set of theoretical statements, that is adjusted and distilled over time within each scientific field. For the field of environmental social science (and other related disciplines that explore human-environment interactions), this body largely lives in the minds of researchers and practitioners. Historically there has not existed a set of materials that codifies important social and ecological concepts and the theories that relate these concepts in order to codify the state of scientific knowledge.

What we're reading -- and how it ties us together

By Michael Levy - Posted on 29 March 2015

Network of an interdisciplinary environmental social science lab as tied together by the journals we read. A few key journals, especially Social Networks, hold us together. R code follows.

The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, my grad lab, is remarkably interdisciplinary. For some sense of our breadth, consider that our nine core graduate students represent five different graduate programs: Ecology, Geography, Hydrology, Political Science, and Transportation Technology and Policy. That's great for many reasons, not least that it's an intellectually exciting environment in which to live, but it sometimes leaves me wondering what ties us together. So I thought I'd see if the journals we read could answer that question.

What we're reading -- and how it ties us together

By Michael Levy - Posted on 28 March 2015

tl;dr: Network of an interdisciplinary environmental social science lab as tied together by the journals we read. A few key journals, especially Social Networks, hold us together. R code follows.

The Center for Environmental Policy and Behavior, my grad lab, is remarkably interdisciplinary. For some sense of our breadth, consider that our nine core graduate students represent five different graduate programs: Ecology, Geography, Hydrology, Political Science, and Transportation Technology and Policy. That’s great for many reasons, not least that it’s an intellectually exciting environment in which to live, but it sometimes leaves me wondering what ties us together. So I thought I’d see if the journals we read could answer that question.

An Ode to the Network Periphery

By Mark Lubell - Posted on 06 March 2015

Social network research often focuses on the core of a network instead of the periphery.  There are practical and theoretical reasons for this.  The practical reason is that it is often difficult to measure the periphery of the network, for example peripheral actors are less likely to answer a survey or be mentioned by survey respondents.  The theoretical reason is that many people think all of the “action” is in the core.  For example, in policy networks, the core actors might have the most political resources and therefore have control over how policy decisions are made. 

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